One of the toughest decisions seniors face is when to give up their keys and stop driving. Even slight changes to the ability to remember, think and reason can lead a senior to decide to stop driving, a new study finds. Impaired cognitive function foreshadows the decision of many seniors to give up driving, even more so than age or physical changes related to Alzheimer’s disease, researchers found. And routine brain testing — in particular, screening meant to detect the earliest and most subtle decline — could help older adults make safe driving decisions while still preserving their independence, the study concluded. “Many older drivers are aware of changes occurring as they age, including subjective cognitive decline,” said researcher Ganesh Babulal, an associate professor of neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “Doctors should discuss such changes with their older patients,” Babulal added in a university news release. “If risk is identified early, there is more time to support the remaining capacity and skills, extending the time they can drive safely, and to plan for a transition to alternative transportation options to maintain their independence when the time comes to stop driving.” For the study, researchers tracked 283 people with an average age of 72 who drove at least once a week and had no cognitive impairments at the start. The participants…  read on >  read on >

Many people have been caught by surprise when an electric-powered car has smoothly and silently crept up on them as they walked. But such an accident can pose a very serious risk to life and limb, and pedestrians might be twice as likely to be hit by an electric or hybrid car than a gas-powered vehicle, researchers reported May 21 in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. It’s even more risky in urban areas, with people there more than three times as likely to be hit by an electric car compared to a gas-powered model, researchers found. “Drivers of electric or hybrid-electric cars must be cautious of pedestrians who may not hear them approaching and may step into the road thinking it is safe to do so, particularly in towns and cities,” said the team led by Phil Edwards, an epidemiologist with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “The greater risk to pedestrian safety posed by electric or hybrid-electric cars needs to be mitigated as governments proceed to phase out petrol and diesel cars,” the researchers wrote. Traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young people, researchers said, adding that pedestrians represent 1 in 4 traffic deaths. To study the potential added risk from electric vehicles, researchers analyzed UK data from 2013 to 2017 on pedestrian deaths and…  read on >  read on >

Long-term daily use of aspirin has been known to prevent colon cancer, but up to now it’s been unclear why that is. Now, researchers think they understand how aspirin acts against colon cancer, a new study says. Aspirin appears to boost aspects of the body’s immune response against cancer cells, according to findings published April 22 in the journal Cancer. “Our study shows a complementary mechanism of cancer prevention or therapy with aspirin besides its classical drug mechanism involving inhibition of inflammation,” said lead researcher Dr. Marco Scarpa, a general surgeon with the University of Padova in Italy. For the study, researchers obtained tissue samples from 238 patients who underwent surgery for colon cancer between 2015 and 2019. Of those, about 12% were aspirin users. Tissue samples from aspirin users showed less cancer spread to the lymph nodes, and more aggressive activity of immune cells against tumors, the researchers said. In the lab, they discovered that exposing colon cancer cells to aspirin enhanced the ability of immune cells to alert each other to the presence of tumors. Specifically, immune cells started expressing more of a protein called CD80. In patients with rectal cancer, aspirin users had higher CD80 expression in healthy tissue, suggesting that aspirin enhances the ability of the immune system to seek out and destroy cancer cells, researchers said. The next step will be to…  read on >  read on >

Active military service appears to increase a woman’s risk of having a low birthweight baby, a new review finds. Nearly two-thirds of studies (63%) conclude that women on active service could be at higher risk of having a baby with low birth weight, researchers reported April 22 in the journal BMJ Military Health. However, there was no clear evidence of an increased risk of stillbirth or premature birth among military women. “This review highlights a need for more female-specific research in armed forces, beyond the U.S. military setting, to inform military maternity pathways and policies in ways that safeguard mothers and their babies,” concluded the research team led by Dr. Kirsten Morris, with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in the U.K. Increasing evidence has shown that stress during pregnancy is associated with birth complications, such as preterm delivery and low birth weight, researchers said in background notes. To assess the evidence, researchers pooled data from 21 studies involving more than 650,000 women in the U.S. military, all published between 1979 and 2023. Four out of five studies that compared active personnel to a control group — usually the wives of male soldiers — indicated an increased risk of low birthweight for the newborns of female service members, researchers said. The study shows the need for more research into the effects of military…  read on >  read on >

Soldiers can suffer brain injury if they are repeatedly exposed to explosive blasts, a new study shows. Further, the more frequently a soldier is exposed to explosions, the greater their risk for brain injury, researchers reported April 22 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Based on this, researchers intend to develop a diagnostic test to detect blast brain injury in military personnel. “The availability of a reliable diagnostic test could improve operators’ quality of life by ensuring that they receive timely, targeted medical care for symptoms related to repeated blast brain injury,” said co-senior researcher Yelena Bodien, an investigator with Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Neurotechnology and Neurorecovery. For this study, researchers followed 30 active-duty U.S. Special Operations Forces personnel. On average, the soldiers were 37 and had 17 years of military service. They all had extensive combat exposure and had high levels of blast exposure and blows to the head. Half had endured more blunt impacts to the head than they could recall. The soldiers underwent a series of brain scans focused on a region of the frontal lobe called the rostral anterior cingulate cortex, which is known to be a widely connected brain network hub that modulates cognition and emotion, researchers said. The scans showed an association between cumulative blast exposure and changes to this brain region, particularly with blast…  read on >  read on >

People who’ve survived a heart attack and have been given a stent may be better off quitting low-dose aspirin a month after the procedure, a new study finds. The strategy is “beneficial by reducing major and minor bleeding through one year by more than 50 percent,” said study lead author Dr. Gregg Stone, a professor of medicine (cardiology) and population health science and policy at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City. “Moreover, there was no increase in adverse ischemic [artery-blocking] events” when folks stopped using aspirin early, “meaning continuing aspirin was causing harm without providing any benefit,” Stone added. His team presented its findings Sunday at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) annual meeting in Atlanta. The study was published simultaneously in The Lancet. For folks who’ve had a heart attack or are at very high risk of experiencing one, low-dose daily aspirin is often given to cut their odds for blocked arteries. However, long-term use of aspirin is also tied to another health danger: Bleeding. So, the duration of aspirin use has long been up for debate. In the new trial, outcomes were tracked for up to a year in over 3,400 heart patients treated at 58 centers in four countries. All the patients had undergone non-surgical, catheter-guided placement of a heart stent to open up a blocked…  read on >  read on >